(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – The Edo State Government is currently producing about 1,500 hectares of cassava, which the private sector partners off-take for the foreign market.
The former Special Adviser on Agriculture to the Edo State Governor on Forestry and Food Security, Prince Joseph Okojie, who disclosed this during a Field Visit to a Model Farm in the state, said the state is looking for ways to partner the private sector.
“There is no way the private sector can do it alone, what we are doing in Edo requires, to a large extent, the collaboration of both the private and public sectors.
“Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) committed to funding up to 75 per cent of the investment required in the first phase of N91.8b, and CBN committed to N68.9b provided that the would-be investors would demonstrate and show proof that they have 25 per cent equity participation. “The government is not trying to do business, but creating an enabling environment for investors to strive,” Okojie said.
He also hinted that the first phase where 51,000 hectares of lands would be cultivated had commenced, while 45,000 hectares had been allocated and the farmers had received their Certificates of Ownership.
Okojie said prioritising and improving agriculture revenue would help to boost sustainable economic growth, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic presented opportunities that would help restore the glory of agriculture as an economic mainstay in the country, especially in Edo.
He said the state had prioritised revenue diversification and agriculture was playing a major role, with the governor rolling out several programmes.
He said: “Over the years, we abandoned our land just because we have crude and everybody gravitated towards playing in the oil and gas sector and forgot our mainstay in the past before the discovery of crude oil.
“However, COVID-19 has taught us a good lesson that we have to look for alternative sources of income. During the first wave in 2020, almost all planes were grounded and most economies of the world were shut down; there was no need for crude, and that impeded on income.”
Okojie said from the inception of Godwin Obaseki’s administration, agriculture was identified as one of his main areas of focus and he didn’t stop there, but took steps to actualise it.
“He reclaimed all agriculture lands owned by the government like in Sube, Irua among other places and brought all of them into a land bank and aggregated farmers to be working there.
“You will agree that since we haven’t done farming to this extent in a long time, we had to go through a teething process and people are not too receptive to change, but we have gone through the learning curve and I believe the governor is going to continue to support and sustain the programme.”
PROJECTED IMPACT: Prioritising and improving agriculture revenue will help to boost sustainable economic growth, as the COVID-19 pandemic has presented opportunities that would help restore the glory of agriculture as an economic mainstay in the country, especially in Edo.